Yrsa Daley-Ward is a debut poet who thrills me down to my bones. In this collection, she uses spare images to explore both the delights and deep cuts of youthful, obsessive first loves, most of them Sapphic. In some of her best pieces, Daley-Ward also explores mental health and the liminal space of a woman’s body; how people’s bodies and minds are not always honored; and how we can honor our own experiences anyway, wielding agency like a knife and a balm.
“yrsa daley-ward’s bone is a symphony of breaking and mending. . . . she lays her hands on the pulse of the thing. . . . an expert storyteller. of the rarest. and purest kind.” —nayyirah waheed, author of salt.
From the celebrated poet Yrsa Daley-Ward, a poignant collection of poems about the heart, life, and the inner self.
Foreword by Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy: An American Memoir
Bone. Visceral. Close to. Stark.
The poems in Yrsa Daley-Ward’s collection bone are exactly that: reflections on a particular life honed to their essence—so clear and pared-down, they become universal.
From navigating the oft competing worlds of religion and desire, to balancing society’s expectations with the raw experience of being a woman in the world; from detailing the experiences of growing up as a first generation black British woman, to working through situations of dependence and abuse; from finding solace in the echoing caverns of depression and loss, to exploring the vulnerability and redemption in falling in love, each of the raw and immediate poems in Daley-Ward’s bone resonates to the core of what it means to be human.
“You will come away bruised. You will come away bruised but this will give you poetry.”
About the Author
Yrsa Daley-Ward is a writer and poet of mixed West Indian and West African heritage. Born to a Jamaican mother and a Nigerian father, Yrsa was raised by her devout Seventh Day Adventist grandparents in the small town of Chorley in the North of England. She splits her time between London and Los Angeles.
“Yrsa’s work is like holding the truth in your hands. It sweats and breathes before you. A glorious living thing.” —Florence Welch, of Florence + the Machine
“yrsa daley-ward’s bone is a symphony of breaking and mending. this whole book is an ache. and a balm. daley-ward effortlessly mines the bone. the diamond from the difficult. the things that are too bright and taboo. she lays her hands on the pulse of the thing. and gives wide air to the epic realities of women. the unfamiliar. the familiar. sexuality. poverty. sex work. sadness. joy. damage. and restoration. assigning them all the grace. all the nurturing. and all the love they deserve. an expert storyteller. of the rarest. and purest kind—daley-ward is uncannily attentive and in tune to the things beneath life. beneath the skin. beneath the weather of the everyday. her poetry and prose are intimate and distant. sonorous and staunch. delicate and metal. unwilling to yield and wondrously supple. daley-ward’s extraordinary talent. ability. to both see and write the veins of the true life. the true lives. is a gift. a breath.” —nayyirah waheed, author of salt. and nejma
“[Daley-Ward] has a knack for getting directly to a story’s heat-point, and once there, to distill the emotions within it down to a line or two. . . . [An] impressive debut.” —Hanif Abdurraqib, The Atlantic
“Who decided that only a picture can paint a thousand words? . . . [Daley-Ward] examines the alchemy between mind and body—with subjects ranging from trauma to hunger to desire.” —Elle
“[bone is], first and foremost, about being human, but [it] also thoughtfully, skillfully, and pissed-off-edly dive[s] into the complexities of race in our new world.” —Glamour
“Daley-Ward’s short poems cover subjects like depression, falling in and out of love, and sexuality, with a fierce staccato that, as the title suggests, cuts deep.” —Vogue
“[bone is] the one poetry book every young Black girl will appreciate. . . . [With] poems that touch the heart, question societal norms and talk about the complexity of sexuality, [Yrsa Daley-Ward] has a book of great depth.” —Essence
“Another stunning excavator of human heat and light, Yrsa Daley-Ward goes straight to the messy beating heart of animal attraction with bone, mesmerizing poems that strip bare the pain and beauty of negotiating longing, sex and love.” —HuffPost
“The perfect title for a book that looks for that hard place between the will and the flesh. . . . bone is a bounty of passionate and pained lines, narrators whose hearts have been turned, twisted, and sometimes stomped, but who remain open and willing—because how else could we live?” —The Millions, “Must-Read Poetry”
“bone opens with a small explosion. . . . The poems that follow pick up the dual meaning...of threat and of erotic desire. Often, the two are intertwined. . . . Excellent.” —The Paris Review (Staff Picks)
“[bone]is an interrogation of self, offering a lyrical autopsy on the manner in which we are harmed by the traumas of those who share our dark skin, female gender, and cultural displacement.” —Vice
“Daley-Ward has become a powerful voice of Black womanhood, speaking of her experiences and wisdom gleaned from growing up as a first-generation British woman of African and Caribbean heritage.” —Dazed
“Inspiringly relatable, Yrsa’s poetry voices the acknowledgement and validity. The transparency of exposed darkness is clothed in pretty, but still effective, verses that pack empowering womanly sass.” —Saint Heron, “14 Books to Add to Your Library”
“[Yrsa Daley-Ward] is at the realm of a new wave of contemporary poets who inspire an unprecedented level of empathy and accessibility through their honest and raw approach. . . . [A] powerful collection of a woman facing tumultuous inner and external battles head on, delivered with a hard-hitting directness, yet with inflections of optimism throughout that are bound to touch readers to their core.” —i-D Magazine
“The actor, author, model, and poet draws from her own experiences as well as issues affecting today’s society throughout her work and is truly a storyteller (‘some tall, some dark’) of the soul.” —PopSugar
“You’ll want this one on your bookshelf.” —HelloGiggles